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  • August Gissler was a German adventurer and treasure hunter, who lived with short interruptions on Cocos Island from 1889 until 1908. Gissler's quest was to find the Golden Madonna of the Treasure of Lima, a solid-gold, gem-encrusted, life-size image of the Virgin Mary, allegedly buried there by the mutineer, Captain William Thompson, in 1820. Over the years Gissler dug a complex system of underground tunnels, some of which can still be entered even today. Gissler was absolutely certain that he would find the treasure, since he had two maps from independent sources that pointed to the same place where the treasure was supposed to have been buried. In parallel, Gissler was also on the search for the treasure of the pirate Benito Bonito. Impressed with his organization, the Costa Rican government in 1897 allowed him to formally establish a colony of several German farmers and named him the first Governor of Cocos Island. The treasure hunt was mainly funded by financiers who had invested in the specially created Cocos Plantation Company. Several settler families who grew tobacco also lived with Gissler on the island.

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